Sakaye Shigekawa

(1913-2013) Doctor specializing in obstetrics in Southern California

Parents were willing to send her to medical school Differences in discrimination Getting good guidance Unable to work when the war broke out Traumatic experiences before camp Joining the hospital unit in Santa Anita Race Track Lost respect for the flag after incarceration No use in having citizenship Never married “Everybody went in like sheep”

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Dr. Sakaye Shigekawa was born January 6, 1913 in South Pasadena, California. When she was a child, her father was hospitalized from double pneumonia and while visiting him, she got acquainted with the doctors and nurses and decided then to become a doctor. After studying premed at USC, she was accepted to Stritch Loyola Medical School and was only 1 of 4 women in her class. She persevered through medical school despite sex discrimination from instructors and fellow students and began practicing medicine in the Los Angeles area.

She was one of the first to be incarcerated at the Santa Anita Race Track on March 1, 1942. She was invited to join Dr. Norman Kobayashi and Dr. Fred Fujikawa treating patients while there which helped her overcome the bitterness and depression she was in. At first she was only allowed to treat skin conditions, but after a while she asked to be able to do other things and began to do obstetrics and other parts of medicine.

After the war she continued to practice medicine and eventually opened up her own practice, which she continues. In her thirty-nine years of obstetrics practice, she calculates that she delivered over twenty thousand babies and never lost a mother. She passed away on October 18, 2013 at age 100.  (April 2020)

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